Tibbs Presents A Real Issue

Boise City Councilor and candidate for Mayor Jim Tibbs offered up a statement today saying he opposed forced annexation without a vote of those being annexed.

While the GUARDIAN will not be endorsing any candidates for public office, we do endorse the concept of allowing citizens to vote on major spending issues and things like being annexed into the city–any city.

Rampant annexation has led to the urban sprawl forced upon us by city councils in Ada County and created a “megopolis” that is nearly impossible to properly service…with sewers, roads, schools, etc.

Tibbs is sure to get a lot of the SW Boise and growthophobe vote, but they seldom turnout in the numbers of the Northenders who are avid Bieter and Team Dave supporters. Bieter has gone on record favoring growth to the south and east of Micron, but wants to limit Foothills growth.

Problem now for Tibbs is he has not come out against GROWTH in these areas–only forced ANNEXATION. With just a few developers in these areas, they will all be eager to get annexed so they can sell houses. Tibbs can gobble them up and plead it was “consensual.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I strongly agree with Tibbs on this issue. Forced annexation is akin to “taxation without representation” that led to the Boston Tea Party.

    Tibbs has been slow to start, but I see him picking up speed. His call for a freeze in city fees and tax increases is a smart move. He realizes that the surpluses in recent years are coming from the growth starting to contribute to the tax base. A recent article from the Idaho Business Review states the city of Nampa is realizing these same gains in the tax base. Here is an excerpt:

    “The reduction from $8.71 per $1,000 in value to $7.21 per 1,000 reflects growth of the tax base. Nampa officials said nearly $249 million in new construction, plus annexations and rising property values, increased the city’s taxable value by 35 percent.”

    A zero based budgeting approach may help Boise to evaluate actually cost rather than usual “take what we can get” approach.

  2. So Tibbs gets an issue. Good for him.

    It’s just too bad it won’t make a difference come election time. Tibbs will lose and Cap’n Dave and his entorage of dingbats will prevail.

    Ho Hum

  3. Colleen Fellows
    Sep 19, 2007, 2:19 am

    Tibbs has hit what amounts to a sore nerve for some Boise voters with the concerns of annexation. This is evident in reviewing the precinct results from the last City Council election, when the only real source of votes for Council candidate Brandi Swindell were those angrily cast by the newly annexed voters of Southwest Boise. The problem is, the issue of “no annexation without representation” has implications beyond that of a mere lack of self-determination. Such was the case with annexation in Lewiston, Idaho, an annexation case that became so contentious that county residents directed threats of bodily harm at city officials prompting intervention by law enforcement.

    Having grown up in the area South of Lewiston that was annexed in 1968, I witnessed first hand the longstanding resentment a number of individuals had regarding the loss of independence of the Orchards. In that case, the vicinity was more than simply an unincorporated area on the outskirts of Lewiston; it had its own community identity. The Orchards had its annual festival and Blossom Day Parade in which the Orchards area elementary and junior high school bands marched (I played the clarinet). The parade was popular enough that it survived for sixteen years after annexation in spite of the fact that Lewiston had its own Roundup Parade in which the Orchard schools participated.

    Growth in the Orchards was for the most part unregulated, the community grew up interspersed with rural households, farms, subdivisions, and commercial and industrial areas. Prior to annexation area residents relied on septic systems and a local irrigation district for water needs. To this day, the area is served by the historical Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District, which provides both a drinking water system, separate from that of the City of Lewiston, and still provides untreated irrigation water to Orchards residents. That may have been fine, had it not been for the projected growth of the area. Instead, the Orchards was annexed, officially becoming the Lewiston Orchards, and zoning laws were enacted, albeit to a limited extent. City property taxes were assessed and the city began charging for services. City sewer lines were installed. Arguments remained unresolved about the installation of sidewalks, the widening of roads and the linking to the city drinking water system. Influential Orchards residents fought the intrusion of the city on these and other matters.

    Now the city of Lewiston is at a crossroads. Population growth in the Lewiston Orchards has surpassed that of the population within the original city boundaries. In the fight to retain the status quo in the Lewiston Orchards, residents in the original Orchards developments were left without the amenities found in the newer Lewiston Orchards developments. Property values of the older Orchards areas have suffered while families have opted to move to subdivisions that better meet their family’s needs. In the end, the fight to stop growth was like that of “Don Quixote’s” gallant battle of “tilting at windmills.” When people want to move to a community, it is difficult to dissuade them.

    The question is, what would have happened to the area had the Orchards not been annexed? One of the most detrimental effects an area can suffer is the unchecked growth of septic systems in the same area served by private drinking water wells. With the expansion of the sewer system into the Orchards, residents were spared the contamination of the water table that supplied water to the community wells. New growth followed reasonable guidelines allowing for better provision of essential city services. There is little doubt that without annexation, the Orchards would have continued to experience haphazard growth with lasting adverse effects. The same can be said for the outskirts of Boise.

    Opponents of annexation, forced or otherwise, often voice the opinion similar to that of the Guardian’s comments, “rampant annexation has led to the urban sprawl forced upon us by city councils in Ada County and created a “megopolis” that is nearly impossible to properly service…with sewers, roads, schools, etc.” The problem is, left to their own devises, counties have a habit of shying away from enacting zoning necessary to combat sprawl. Additionally, quite often, those that would vote against annexation might not otherwise find reason to deal with the surmounting issues related to growth in terms of providing services for sewers, roads, schools or anything else that would raise their taxes in the slightest. Had it been left to the leading opponents of Orchards annexation, the Orchards would likely have a permanent water boil order and residents would be complaining about unrestrained and irrational sprawl.

    That said, if the Idaho Constitution were changed to require a vote of those presented with annexation, at what point would the “no” vote be outweighed by subsequent health and safety concerns caused by increased growth in the unchecked area? Unless Jim Tibbs can answer that question, he better head back to the drawing board. Candidate Tibbs must come up with real solutions to citizen concerns, and refrain from the knee-jerk reaction of offering up hot button subjects at campaign time without providing the necessary in-depth analysis necessary to effectively address the situation.

  4. Colleen, I certainly hope your not taking a paycheck from Team Dave because you just made an excellent case for getting rid of him. ” Had it been left to the leading opponents of annexation” is just the attitude that Bieter has had the entire time he has occupied the office. After all, everyone knows that the “common citizen” has absolutely no idea what’s best for him, so city hall simply has to step in and tell them what to do.

    Bieter wants to push the growth south and east of the city. The fact that there is no flippin water out there doesn’t seem to matter to your buddy Dave. When the big annex took place, the folks were told ” you will get police service, emergency medical service, libraries and parks for you to enjoy.” The police, fire and EMS service of course, can’t start for a year and a half because the funds aren’t yet generated.(Gee Dave, I guess you forgot that part) Oh, and parks? Good ol’ Dave is really bragging about all the new parks he has built!

    Davey, just how many parks have been built in the area we annexed two years ago. But, I guess that’s OK because all those kids can go downtown to the river and watch 15-20 people play in their kayaks. But don’t try and play ball, or soccer down there, tree huggers only! And let’s certainly not forget the libraries!

    Hey, all you thousands of people that were annexed two years ago, Dave Bieter says that if you want to use the city library, you need to just hop on downtown, or go to Overland and Orchard, or if your really feeling like making a day trip out of it, head on over to Cole and Ustick. Other than that, just keep using the county libraries.( I forgot, you already had that didn’t you?)

    Would someone in city hall (maybe you Colleen) please set Bieter down and show him just what the city limits actually are? I honestly think he isn’t smart enough to figure it out alone! Gee, and by the way Colleen, Tibbs suggestion about actually speaking with the affected citizens is a lousy idea. After all, they certainly couldn’t be nearly as intelligent as you and your buddy Dave.
    God forbid we should have a leader that actively seeks citizen input!!!

  5. What always is unsaid in all the discussion of annexation, or forced annexation as the opponents love to call it, is the history of the southwest area.

    At one time, this area was totally unserved by sewers. Everyone, with the exception of a small sewer district, was on septic tanks. These people generally had wells for their potable drinking water.

    Eventually, the water table in this area threatened the drinking wells and made the septic tanks fail. When the tanks failed, there was oftentimes no way to dig a new one.

    Once upon a time, an Ada County Commissioner named Vern Bisterfeldt came to the City of Boise, along with his cohorts on the commission, and begged the City to extend sewer lines into the un-annexed area to fix this problem. You see, until that time, Boise didn’t extend services to those that didn’t pay taxes even if they were in the area of impact.

    The City of Boise agreed to do this, however, those people who received sewer services had to sign a form that said they would not oppose annexation at the time it was presented and I believe that this document was recorded so that subsequent owners would be aware (that is if they bothered to read it). Any development in this southwest area that came as a result of extended sewers also had this condition placed on the deeds if the developer didn’t get the property annexed prior to selling the houses.

    Interestingly Good ol Vern was hoist on his own petard as he was annexed “against his will” (but not against what he signed) as the City limits approached his subdivision. You see Vern wanted the sewer – he just didn’t want to have to pay the taxes that go along with getting the sewer.

    And the moral of that story is, if you live cheek by jowl with the State’s largest City, you have to expect that you’ll be an urban dweller with all that entails. Otherwise, move to Owyhee county.

    Oh and by the by, Tibbs’ issue on “forced” annexation relates to people who can now not vote for him. I guess I don’t understand to whom it is he is pandering with this. It would be nice, and probably more helpful for him to come up with an issue that has resonance with actual VOTERS!

  6. curious george
    Sep 19, 2007, 2:42 pm

    Tibbs needs to go one step further and state that he would be opposed to annexing any lands outside of the city’s Area of City Impact – even if the owner would consent to annexation.

    The issue goes much deeper than anyone might realize. When Fred Tilman modified the annexation law in 2002, he created a loophole that allows a landowner to consent to annexation – even if the property is outside of the city’s growth area.

    This interpretation elevates landowners to a higher class of citizenship than taxpayers, which violates Article 2 of the Idaho Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.

    Huge problem.

    EDITOR NOTE–We see annexation as an issue for people within the city because we all have to pay for the extension of services, despite claims to the contrary.

  7. Why Sara, I do believe you just disenfranchised the entire southwest section of Boise city! Perhaps you would like to attend the session when Dave has the city limits explained to him. Oh, and by the way, Bisterfeldt STILL doesn’t have sewer! So much for city services in exchange for annexation.

  8. From a purely political standpoint its kinda silly. Sure he’s going to get the Brandi vote in SW Boise which will likely yield the same results. But those about to be annexed won’t be voting in the city election. Maybe Tibbs thinks he’s running for Commissioner?

  9. In case no one else has noticed, platted subdivisions are not being built, homes in partial state of construction are abandoned, you will hear no sound of hammers in many new subdivisions, and older homes have been sitting unsold for as long as two years. This is in popular Eagle, where developers still haven’t noticed there is a change in the air.

    It is obvious that the stream of newcomers has dropped to a trickle and the need to annex will change as well.

    It is a strange phenomenon that people just don’t want to believe that markets go up and then they go down.

  10. Grumpy ole guy
    Sep 20, 2007, 2:03 am

    Isn’t all annexation “forced” onto some of those properties annexed? Sure it is. There is never a 100% of the property owners who favor anything, annexation, nude bill collectors or very slow dog catchers. Someone will always think that his or her annexation was “forced” upon him or her. There HAS to be a way and a means of orderly growth and that means is set forth in the Idaho State Constitution. If people don’t like the process they should seek to change the constitution and State Laws regulating it. If they don’t like the way it is being considered they have the right (and, dare I say, obligation) to oppose it at the advertised hearings on the subject. If they don’t like the result, well they can do whatever protest they like, so long as it is a legal one; but, if they don’t speak up BEFORE the fact, they forfeit any and all legal means and are left with the mitch and bone option. Too bad, so sad.

  11. Small correction, Sara. If I remember correctly, only those of us who signed up for a low-interest loan to pay the fees for sewer service in SW Boise had to sign the promise not to oppose annexation. The fees per lot were approximately $8,000 and the City offered a low-cost loan option. The fees only allowed us to hook up to the sewer and did not inlude the line from the house to the street. It was well worth the money, by the way. Also, annexation was no surprise. I bought near Overland and 5-mile in 1978. I remember talking to the realtor at the time about how annexation was just a matter of time.

  12. Cyclops, when you stated “But, I guess that’s OK because all those kids can go downtown to the river and watch 15-20 people play in their kayaks. But don’t try and play ball, or soccer down there, tree huggers only” I lost a lot of respect for you.

    That statement was an unnecessary ad hominem attack. If you’re talking about the River Recreation Park, you should disclose that it will be much much more than a kayaking feature for 15 or 20 people. It will be a park without equal in the world. It WILL HAVE soccer fields. And guess what, it will be open to those who live outside Boise City limits and didn’t pay a dime for its construction. Forget all that though, most of the RR Park construction will be funded by private donations, as I currently understand it.

    The kayak features will be cost between $1 and $2 million. That’s about 1% of the annual city budget and only a tiny fraction of 1% of the annual budget when extrapolated over its useful life of many decades.

    I’m no fan of team Dave, but isn’t annexation an issue of the long term? Whoever is mayor will have to deal with it. Furthermore, I can’t believe people cripe so much over what amounts to be a few hundred dollars a year. If you’re so worried about a few hundred dollars a year then you have problems to worry about other than annexation.

    One might argue about being forced to hook up to sewer which will cost several thousand. In that regard I favor limited grandfather rights.

    Personally, I believe the benefits of annexation outweigh the detriments. What I’d like to see and what is rarely talked about, is giving individual neighborhood associations greater power. Such as; power over police personnel and what exactly they do in the neigborhood, veto power over developments, and the ability to charge park entrance fees to those who live outside city limits.


    Perhaps each neighborhood association president could have an automatic seat on the city council. Think about that! A newly annexed neighborhood will instantly get a seat on the council.

    I guess I should change my name to BoiseIdealist. 🙂

  13. curious george
    Sep 20, 2007, 4:19 pm

    Annexation not only means becoming subject to municipal taxation & getting municipal services, but also becoming subject to municipal rules & regs.

    It’s not just about sewer and taxes.

    An Area of City Impact is granted by a county to a city through a public participatory process – it’s a “heads up” to those citizens who reside in the effected area (whether they own land in the area or not) that they will eventually become citizens of that community. These non-owner residents even qualify to serve on the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission.

    When the annexation law was changed, a split was institutionalized between the Haves (those citizens who own land) and the Have Nots (those citizens who do not). The owner of an apartment complex outside of a city’s Area of City Impact could consent to annexation – subjugating all the residents in the apartment building (qualified electors, every one) to a set of municipal laws that they will have been denied an opportunity to craft. How is it legal, or proper, or moral, to accept a law that grants a single un-elected individual (the landowner) the power to substantially change so many people’s lives.

    This violates the Equal Protections clause, and runs counter to any number of Idaho AG Opinions and court cases that reaffirm the authority of Article I, Section 2 of the Idaho Constitution. To wit:

    POLITICAL POWER INHERENT IN THE PEOPLE. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform or abolish the same whenever they may deem it necessary; and no special privileges or immunities shall ever be granted that may not be altered, revoked, or repealed by the legislature.

    In other words, just because a person owns land they do not have any special right to usurp the rights of other citizens to participate in their representative government. When the “owner consent” loophole (Category A Annexation) is used to annex outside of a pre-agreed Area of City Impact, then the citizens who may live on that land (but who do not own it) will have been denied their legal right to participate in the discussions regarding their potential subjugation to municipal rule.

    By closing that loophole (or by a city council adopting a policy that it will never utilize that loophole), real growth management can occur. Without such a commitment, we’ll get the Eagle, Star, and Kuna debacle all over the county – which is nothing more than run away, unregulated growth.

  14. Cyclops, if Tibbs is going to say no to “forced” annexation, only those who would not be “forcibly” annexed are people who are not currently city residents. Hence, his issue panders to NON voters.

  15. Sara, you forget two portions of the equation.
    One, Jim Tibbs is not “pandering” to anyone. He has always held the personal belief that forced annexation is wrong.

    Second, there are a substantial portion of the population that still feel they were treated badly by city government during the last few rounds of forced annexation. They are still angry at the way they were ignored by “team Dave”.

    The bottom line here is the cynical attitude that a candidate MUST be pandering to someone each time they make their views known. I find it refreshing that someone seeking office, Jim Tibbs, will actually tell the people how he feels about the issues we face. I would ask that you think about your own position that if Tibbs were “pandering”, why would he choose to “pander” to people who can’t vote? Kind of shoots your position down maybe?

  16. Cyclops just proved that Tibbs is in fact pandering — to those who feel burned from earlier annexation and who are now within the city. And let’s not forget the orginal Guardian post above that noted SW Boise residents impacted by outward growth. This is to whom Tibbs is specifically playing. It is also an effort to temper perceptions that Tibbs is pro-growth (given his Foothills development stand) and inch toward the center. To think otherwise during a political campaign is folly. And while the denizens of the Foothills can’t vote, plenty of Boiseans who live nearby and who recreate there year round certainly do. And will.

  17. Well Zonker, just what is Tibbs’ stand on the foothills? Inquiring minds, and all that, would like to know. While your at it, please explain just how addressing the situation with a significant number of citizens is pandering. Or maybe should Tibbs assume the same stance as our current mayor. You know, the position ” we got their tax monies, now we can just pretend they don’t exist”.

  18. Tibbs’ own website fails to offer any specifics on anything – including development. And the Foothills position is (per below) a ‘non-answer’. But I have a neighbor who supports him because he is willing to endorse Foothills development. And I point out Kevin Richert’s July 19 piece in the Statesman – http://www.idahostatesman.com/richert/story/111251.html

    “City Council member Jim Tibbs whiffed on the question [at the public debate that week]. He said the Foothills are a gem that should be preserved as much as possible through partnerships, but pointed out that much of the Foothills remains private property. “It doesn’t belong to city government.” Tibbs, running against Bieter this fall, never said whether he’d support continued Foothills development — one of a passel of Tibbs non-answers Wednesday.

    To note Kevin further, “Bieter will gladly talk Foothills to anyone who’ll listen,” because his position is clear.

  19. Zonker, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE FOOTHILLS LATELY? I was up there tonight and there are houses everywhere! I have a feeling that horse you want to ride has already left the barn. Did you know that the city has already tied up over 10,000 acres of the foothills? And they still have over half of the original 10 million left to acquire yet more land?
    Tibbs has taken repeated hits from the libs about pandering to the Southwest. What do you think Bieter is doing with the foothills? ” There will be no development of the foothills as long as I am mayor!” Do you honestly think he means that? Look at just how many houses that have been built up there in the last 4 years and go ask your buddy Dave WHY? Tibbs’ position is really quite consistant and one of common sense. Even though there is the question of private property rights, any proposed development will have to pass very strict Planning and Zoning regulations that will be designed to preserve the open feeling that we enjoy. Bieter would have you believe that Tibbs would have the entire foothills developed with a density of 12 houses per acre but that is just simply not the case. Just ask yourself the question, are the foothills in better shape today than they were 4 years ago? And if not , why not, and whose to blame?

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